Hernandez to reap rewards for dream start
Javier Hernandez is expected to be rewarded for his extraordinary first season at Manchester United with a new contract.
Hernandez, who scored 20 goals in 45 appearances during his first campaign in English football last season, is currently on an extended break after representing Mexico in last month's Gold Cup and is not due to return to action until Paul Scholes' testimonial against New York Cosmos on August 5.
The 23-year-old has already been linked with Real Madrid -- speculation rejected by his representatives, since the end of last season.
Although there are no concerns within Old Trafford of 'Chicharito' being lured away by a rival club, United's policy of recognising the progress of emerging stars will see Hernandez rewarded with a pay rise and extended deal.
A £7m signing from Chivas de Guadalajara last year, Hernandez's current four-year deal is understood to be structured to ensure renegotiation on the basis of appearances.
Manager Alex Ferguson admitted recently that the youngster had exceeded all expectations on the pitch last season.
Meanwhile, England U-21 defender Chris Smalling, who arrived at United in a £12m move from Fulham last season, has signed a new five-year deal yesterday.
The 21-year-old, who will link up with the United squad in Seattle next week after being given an extended holiday following the European U-21 Championships, is believed to have secured a £40,000-a-week deal after impressing in his first season at the club.
Smalling, who made 34 appearances for United last season, said: "This is a great club and, in the short time I have been here, I have already achieved more than I could have ever expected. I am looking forward to a long and successful career at Manchester United."
Ferguson is of the same opinion about a player who far exceeded expectations during his debut United campaign, considering he had been playing in the non-league for Maidstone less than two years before joining the Premier League champions.
"Chris has been outstanding since joining us from Fulham last year," said Ferguson. He is an extremely talented young defender. He is quick, strong and reads the game well. He is a great asset to the team."
Ferguson has brought in more youth this summer in the form of Spain U-21 goalkeeper David de Gea and Blackburn defender Phil Jones, aged 20 and 19 respectively.
It means United have a talented trio of youngsters who could be around for a long time and, along with the likes of Ravel Morrison and Paul Pogba, two of the more notable members of last season's FA Youth Cup-winning team, could form their own version of the famed 'Class of 92'.
Elsewhere, Stephen Kelly believes Fulham's early start to the season -- and the unusual experience of playing in the Faroe Islands -- will stand the club in good stead as they embark on another European adventure.
Fulham, whose early start has ensured they will play a competitive match in every month of 2011, advanced to the second qualifying round of the Europa League with their 3-0 aggregate win over NSI Runavik to set up a date with Crusaders in the next round.
"It's started early for us again but it's got that feeling of another European tour already," said Republic of Ireland defender Kelly.
"We should benefit from the fact we're playing competitive games rather than friendly matches." (© Independent News Service)